Commodities, Copper, Iron ore, News, Production

Carrapateena record uplifts BHP


BHP is starting to get the best out of its OZ Minerals assets, with half-year production from the South Australian mines increasing by 48 per cent compared with the first half of 2022–23 financial year (FY23).

This result was supported by a record quarterly performance from the Carrapateena copper mine (17,700 tonnes of copper production) in the three months to December 31. Since the end of the June quarter 2023, Carrapateena has boosted its production output by 51 per cent.

BHP attributed the strong performance of its Copper South Australia assets to their “successful integration” into the business, particularly with the company’s pre-existing Olympic Dam mine.

“Strong smelter performance at Olympic Dam was supported by increased transfers of concentrate from Prominent Hill for processing to higher margin cathode,” BHP said in its half-year report.

“Olympic Dam also delivered record half year gold production and sales.”

The Prominent Hill mine, located about 130km north-west of Olympic Dam, enjoyed a 6.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter production uplift (12,900 tonnes of copper). The mine has boosted its production output by 57 per cent since the end of the June quarter 2023.

BHP’s half-year copper production increased by 7 per cent compared with the first half of FY23, with Escondida also delivering a strong performance, boosting its half-on-half production output by 3 per cent.

WA Iron Ore (WAIO) production was up 5 per cent quarter-on-quarter but pulled back 2 per cent from the first half of FY23.

“Lower production (was) due to the continued tie-in activity for the Rail Technology Programme (RTP1), and the impacts of the ongoing ramp up of the Central Pilbara hub (South Flank and Mining Area C),” BHP said.

RTP1 aims to replace end-of-life rail signalling systems with new technology.

“Each train effectively has a hand glove around it, and the system enables us to run the trains closer together on a steady state basis,” BHP general manager rail Warren Wellbeloved said during an October 2022 port and rail update.

Half-year nickel production increased by 4 per cent, but BHP acknowledged that it, along with other nickel miners, was facing difficulties in the nickel market.

“The nickel industry is undergoing a number of structural changes and is at a cyclical low in realised pricing,” BHP said.

“Nickel West is not immune to these challenges. Operations are being actively optimised, and options are being evaluated to mitigate the impacts of the sharp fall in nickel prices.”

BHP said it was undergoing a carrying value assessment on the company’s nickel assets, with an update to be provided when financial results are released on February 20.

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